‘Shadiest process ever’: Newberg reacts to Morelock ouster

Education

Dr. Joe Morelock fired as superintendent in 4-3 vote

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Parents have spoken out following the series of events from Tuesday’s night Newberg School Board meeting that ended with the superintendent getting fired.

The four board members who voted to fire Morelock are Dave Brown, Brian Shannon, Renee Powell and Trevor DeHart. The same four also worked to ban BLM and Pride flags in the school.

Board members Brandy Penner, Rebecca Piros and Ines Peña voted not to fire Morelock.

“This has been the shadiest process ever,” Penner said. “And it’s our children who will be suffering, because they’ll be losing resources out of their classrooms – and those are my kids.”

This comes as tensions have heightened over the controversial Black Lives Matter and Pride flag ban on school property.

Tensions have been rising in Newberg School Board meetings for months.

Newberg School Board member Brandy Penner, September 22, 2021 (KOIN)

“I protest that none of you had anything to say why you wanted to do this,” said Rebecca Piros, a school board member.

“It’s over and done,” said Dave Brown, the board chair.

The fallout was immediate — and during the meeting.

When board member Rebecca Piros protested the 4 majority board members refusing to say why they fired Morelock, Penner shot back: “You know exactly why, Rebecca, because they’re cowards and they know they’re gonna get sued. We know exactly why.”

“I feel like they set the house on fire with no evacuation plans,” Piros told KOIN 6.

The four board members who voted to fire Morelock are the same ones who worked to ban BLM and Pride flags in the school.

“I know there’s been dissatisfaction that Joe has not responded quickly enough to taking down of BLM flags or Rainbow flags,” Piros said.

This action will have financial consequences.

Piros said the district will have to pay the outgoing superintendent a years salary up to $260,000, plus pay a new interim superintendent a comparable salary. Along with the the time consuming and costly process of searching for a new superintendent, which can add up to more than $40,000.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer resources — and tax payers should be angry,” said Kellie Betcher, a mother with kids in the district. “This impacts the entire community – as a parent I’m devastated for my children, and for the funds that are going to be lost for our schools.”

She said her daughter Lola knew Dr. Morelock. At Lola’s request he even came to run with her in support of a fundraising event at her school. Lola is sad to see him go.

While this was a swift and divided decision to fire him, parents said they saw it coming.

“I don’t believe they had just cause,” Betcher said. “This is a personal vendetta. It feels very tyrannical to me. I think it’s to prove a point.”

While those in majority on the board are staying silent regarding their reasoning, in previous meetings some vocal residents have called for members to terminate Morelock.

KOIN 6 News reached out to all school board members and only heard back from Piros and Penner.

Residents and veterans in the community are planning to protest this action Thursday at the district offices at noon.

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